The Siew San Teng (Tau Pek Kong) Temple in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia has retained this spot since 1770. It is across the street from the Kuching river walk (and the small Chinese history museum). The temple itself has been renovated and rebuilt many times.
A large mural has been taking shape on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee for over a year. The first photo shows it near the beginning, September 2013.
Large paintings have also been added along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee near the mural. It is quite a nice addition of street art to the historical JB walk. A new post with photos of those will be added soon. (Update: In turns out it was a temporary display, the paintings are not there now).
I very much enjoyed the treehouse cabin at the Permai Rainforest Resort. The reviews on Agoda for the ground level lodgings there were not great, but I was extremely pleased with the treetop cabin I stayed at. The Permai Rainforest Resort is in Damai, about 30 km outside Kuching.
The treehouses all are along the forest edge where it meets the beach. You hear the wonderful sound of waves crashing and winds rushing through the forest trees.
They were quite cool, with the shade and wind, but also offered AC if you wished to use it. The cafeteria wasn’t anything fancy but offered tasty food and a decent wifi connection (no wifi is available in the rooms).
The Bahagian Mosque (“Divisional Mosque”) is located just past the river walk in Kuching. Also known as Kuching City Mosque, the mosque was built in the late 1960s to replace the original State Mosque that was erected on the same site in the mid-19th century.
The mosque is surrounded by a Muslim cemetary.
The pink mosque is Kuching’s largest and stands as an important historical landmark in the city. Its magnificent gilded Mughal-style domes are its most distinct trademark, rising high above the city’s skyline. Gilded half-domes that match the domes on its roof grace its windows.
Masjid Bahagian Kuching is believed to be the state’s oldest and first-ever mosque, a memento from the time when Islam first arrived in Sarawak. It can accommodate up to 4,000 worshippers at a time.
Sadly one of the features of living in Johor Bahru is having to accept unreliable service.
My 9:30 AM taxi isn’t here (after 9:50 AM). The only phone numbers online for the JB-Singapore taxis that I can find are never answered. I don’t mean like they take a long time or sometimes are not answered. I mean I have never had a call answered. Now he called and just said he isn’t going to do it I have to find some solution myself half an hour after they were suppose to be here.
FoodPanda, which is a good idea, just doesn’t deliver what you order sometimes. It is like a lottery. Maybe they will deliver maybe they won’t. Earlier this week they just didn’t.
Also earlier this week a called a local cab which just never showed up. I have tried various companies and this one is the least bad. But still will just sometimes not show up at all. That is it, you are just left stranded.
Bad service is everywhere around the globe. But in the USA you can usually avoid it other than in politically protected monopolistic companies (Comcast, Verizon etc.) and airlines. For example, you can get around normal car dealers. If you care about decent service you just don’t deal with companies that provide lousy service.
But in JB I find it very hard to do. You just are stuck with very limited options and finding those that offer reliable service is just either not possible or beyond my capabilities quite often. If anyone knows a reliable “yellow cab” from JB to Singapore please let me know.
There are many good things about living in JB. But the poor reliability of companies is tiresome.
Some photos I took of a rainbow over Johor Bahru last month.
Close up of one end of the rainbow – near Sultan Abu Baker Mosque in Johor Bahru.
The potential for Iskandar, and the extended Johor Bahru, region remains strong. But the lack of progress on transportation issues for getting back and forth from Singapore are a huge problem for anyone wanting to think about living in the area now. I also remain worried about the huge imbalance between a huge boom in luxury condo development and the lack of a similar visible increase in high paying jobs to afford the huge numbers of luxury condos coming on the market now, and over the next 5 years.
The imbalance between office buildings and the huge numbers of luxury condo high rises continues to be a big warning sign I think. Add to that the very poor job done thus far dealing with the very initial stage of what will soon be a flood of cross border traffic is a huge warning sign that investors should heed.
The cooling measures on real estate investment were wise, though late (I would have done it a bit differently but overall taking cooling measure was, and is, a good idea).
There needs to have been more done sooner on the cross border transportation issues – a 3rd link should have been operational last year. The MRT should be under construction now. And more focus should be on bringing in high paying jobs to fill office buildings and then getting those built.
Without much more progress on transportation and many more high paying office jobs the current number of luxury condo buildings should not have been allowed. The efforts on health care and education and the good jobs they provide, as part of the Iskandar initiative, have been good but those jobs don’t come remotely close to justifying even a small fraction of the luxury condo units under construction.
Several new big hotels are a good boost for the economy (and are great tax revenue sources). Retail efforts are good (and also good for providing lots of jobs and tax revenue) but how much more can be expected there without better paying jobs elsewhere in the local economy (basically I think this is a good focus but I think everything that can be hoped for is being done)? Theme parks are a good hope for bringing in tourists and boosting the economy (and filling up those hotels and bringing in tax revenue and providing jobs). It seems to me the very bad transportation problems over the last year in moving between Singapore and JB are a big problem for investors in this area though (if I were such an investor I wouldn’t commit more investments until the situation was much improved and there was reason to believe it wouldn’t be allowed to fall back into the situation we have been living with now). The manufacturing efforts have been decent but are not very significant thus far in producing high paying jobs.
One example of a mistake that is going to cause problems for decades is failing to install fiber in brand new luxury condo buildings. Even if developers don’t want to invest in the future I would not have approved building plans for luxury condos after 2010 that did not include wiring every unit for fiber. Fiber is the future of high tech living and not investing in it is not the way to become known as a future focused location. Economic development requires thinking of the future and not allowing shortcuts and cheap solutions today from capping the potential for the future.
The potential for Iskandar remains as strong as it is for almost any region on the globe. But the next 10 years can build a solid foundation for long term success or can result in a system that is difficult to build upon (such as a huge imbalance in real estate, toward luxury condos for example, or a bad transportation system – which are hugely costly to deal with). The next 10 years is much more challenging to do well than the last 10 years – the begging was very easy by comparison to the challenges faced now. If it is done well, I can see the Iskandar/JB region paired with Singapore in creating one of the most vibrant areas on the globe and creating great jobs and lives for those living here (Singapore will also benefit greatly from this being done well).
Related: Iskandar Housing Real Estate Investment Considerations (2011) – Minimum Housing Prices for Foreigners Investing In Malaysia Rise to RM 1,000,000 – The Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Investing in Iskandar has Risks (2011)
Gianni’s Trattoria has the same owner as Sweetwater Mediterranean Restaurant and both are excellent. Gianni’s in Taman Pelangi is two doors down from Sweetwater Mediterranean Restaurant and in Permas Jaya is over the pedestrian bridge from the Jusco mall.
This is a photo of the exterior at Permas Jaya. All photos are from my visit to the Permas Jaya location. Both sites offer fixed price lunches at about 35 MYR (a bit over $10 with soup or salad, entrée and tea.
One of the things you have to do while in Borneo is see orangutans in the rainforest. I went on a river rafting trip that included a stop at Semenggoh Wildlife Center (national park) on the way. From my research I believe this was 1 of the 2 good options for seeing wild orangutans near Kuching.
The orangutans are free in the forest. They stop by the viewing points because of the tasty food (many were also brought here for rehabilitation so they are comfortable seeing people – though the rehabilitation is largely moved elsewhere now).
Because the orangutans are free when fruit is in season sometimes few or no orangutans show up. They generally have feeding time in the morning at 9 to 10 AM (when I went) and in the afternoon (3 to 3:30 PM).
Classic Inn Premium offers a very good location, in Bukit Bintang KL, with clean and quiet rooms and good wifi. There is a large mall right across the street with plenty of places to eat (along with some places to eat on right next to the hotel).
Rooms are a bit small, but fine. The things they could do to improve the rooms are to put more small tables in to put things on, there is space for them and almost no other space to put things on. The showers are nice (good water pressure, hot water and high – 8+ feet, which is nice when you have some places you have to duck to get your head in). The bathrooms are the normal budget SE Asia toilet/shower combo which might seem odd to some but these are above average.